HONOLULU (HI Now) - Owner Merle’s Great Grandfather, J.C. Searle, was first to start growing coffee in the Ka’u area. According to a newspaper article, the 8 acres of land produced coffee in 1894. There have been an additional 12 acres of coffee planted since then. Why a plantation? There is coffee, Mamaki, citrus, Macadamia nut trees, horses, donkeys, and cattle, just to name a few. They usually give free tours but since the pandemic, they’ve had to put that on hold.
After 30 years with Hawaiian Electric co., Merle decided she wanted to retire and go back home where she was born. Phil closed his office furniture/shelving business and they both headed back to the Big Island to live on the plantation. In 1999 they started rejuvenating the land and getting the coffee back in shape. In 2005 USD /NRCS named Aikane Plantation Rancher of the Year and in 2006, Farmer of the Year. When Aikane was approved by the Seal of Quality many years ago, they were told they were only 1 of 4 coffee growers with the Seal of Quality. When one sees the Seal of Quality, it means it’s the best of the best. “Quality is everything”. Aikane strives to make the best coffee possible, with a large local and Japanese following!
They are completely off grid, using solar panels for electricity, capturing water from the roofs, and utilizing satellite connections for their phones and office. The coffee is roasted in a special roaster similar to a popcorn popper. No guesswork. The temperature and timing of the fresh air roasting the coffee is computer controlled. The roast comes out the same every time. The beans are suspended in air so they don’t collect the oils from previous roasts, giving the coffee it’s own unique flavor.
Aikane Plantation products are available on their website www.aikaneplantation.com, at KCC farmers market, several restaurants, specialty stores, and in the military commissaries!
For more information: www.aikaneplantation.com
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